Job's honour is turned into contempt. (1-14) Job a burden to himself. (15-31)
Verses 1-14 Job contrasts his present condition with his former honour and authority. What little cause have men to be ambitious or proud of that which may be so easily lost, and what little confidence is to be put in it! We should not be cast down if we are despised, reviled, and hated by wicked men. We should look to Jesus, who endured the contradiction of sinners.
Verses 15-31 Job complains a great deal. Harbouring hard thoughts of God was the sin which did, at this time, most easily beset Job. When inward temptations join with outward calamities, the soul is hurried as in a tempest, and is filled with confusion. But woe be to those who really have God for an enemy! Compared with the awful state of ungodly men, what are all outward, or even inward temporal afflictions? There is something with which Job comforts himself, yet it is but a little. He foresees that death will be the end of all his troubles. God's wrath might bring him to death; but his soul would be safe and happy in the world of spirits. If none pity us, yet our God, who corrects, pities us, even as a father pitieth his own children. And let us look more to the things of eternity: then the believer will cease from mourning, and joyfully praise redeeming love.
Job 30:1-31 .
1. younger--not the three friends ( Job 15:10 , Job 32:4 Job 32:6 Job 32:7 ). A general description: Job 30:1-8 , the lowness of the persons who derided him; Job 30:9-15 , the derision itself. Formerly old men rose to me ( Job 29:8 ). Now not only my juniors, who are bound to reverence me ( Leviticus 19:32 ), but even the mean and base-born actually deride me; opposed to, "smiled upon" ( Job 29:24 ). This goes farther than even the "mockery" of Job by relations and friends ( Job 12:4 , Job 16:10 Job 16:20 , Job 17:2 Job 17:6 , 19:22 ). Orientals feel keenly any indignity shown by the young. Job speaks as a rich Arabian emir, proud of his descent.
dogs--regarded with disgust in the East as unclean ( 1 Samuel 17:43 , Proverbs 26:11 ). They are not allowed to enter a house, but run about wild in the open air, living on offal and chance morsels ( Psalms 59:14 Psalms 59:15 ). Here again we are reminded of Jesus Christ ( Psalms 22:16 ). "Their fathers, my coevals, were so mean and famished that I would not have associated them with (not to say, set them over) my dogs in guarding my flock."
2. If their fathers could be of no profit to me, much less the sons, who are feebler than their sires; and in whose case the hope of attaining old age is utterly gone, so puny are they ( Job 5:26 ) [MAURER]. Even if they had "strength of hands," that could be now of no use to me, as all I want in my present affliction is sympathy.
3. solitary--literally, "hard as a rock"; so translate, rather, "dried up," emaciated with hunger. Job describes the rudest race of Bedouins of the desert [UMBREIT].
fleeing--So the Septuagint. Better, as Syriac, Arabic, and Vulgate, "gnawers of the wilderness." What they gnaw follows in Job 30:4 .
in former time--literally, the "yesternight of desolation and waste" (the most utter desolation; Ezekiel 6:14 ); that is, those deserts frightful as night to man, and even there from time immemorial. I think both ideas are in the words darkness [GESENIUS] and antiquity [UMBREIT]. ( Isaiah 30:33 , Margin).
4. mallows--rather, "salt-wort," which grows in deserts and is eaten as a salad by the poor [MAURER].
by the bushes--among the bushes.
juniper--rather, a kind of broom, Spartium junceum [LINNÆUS], still called in Arabia, as in the Hebrew of Job, retem, of which the bitter roots are eaten by the poor.
5. they cried--that is, "a cry is raised." Expressing the contempt felt for this race by civilized and well-born Arabs. When these wild vagabonds make an incursion on villages, they are driven away, as thieves would be.
6. They are forced "to dwell."
cliffs of the valleys--rather, "in the gloomy valleys"; literally, "in the gloom of the valleys," or wadies. To dwell in valleys is, in the East, a mark of wretchedness. The troglodytes, in parts of Arabia, lived in such dwellings as caves.
7. brayed--like the wild ass ( Job 6:5 for food). The inarticulate tones of this uncivilized rabble are but little above those of the beast of the field.
gathered together--rather, sprinkled here and there. Literally, "poured out," graphically picturing their disorderly mode of encampment, lying up and down behind the thorn bushes.
nettles--or brambles [UMBREIT].
8. fools--that is, the impious and abandoned ( 1 Samuel 25:25 ).
base--nameless, low-born rabble.
viler than, &c.--rather, they were driven or beaten out of the land. The Horites in Mount Seir ( Genesis 14:6 , with which compare Genesis 36:20 Genesis 36:21 , Deuteronomy 2:12 Deuteronomy 2:22 ) were probably the aborigines, driven out by the tribe to which Job's ancestors belonged; their name means troglodytæ, or "dwellers in caves." To these Job alludes here ( Job 30:1-8 , and Genesis 24:4-8 , which compare together).
9. ( Job 17:6 ). Strikingly similar to the derision Jesus Christ underwent ( Lamentations 3:14 , Psalms 69:12 ). Here Job returns to the sentiment in Job 30:1 . It is to such I am become a song of "derision."
10. in my face--rather, refrain not to spit in deliberate contempt before my face. To spit at all in presence of another is thought in the East insulting, much more so when done to mark "abhorrence." Compare the further insult to Jesus Christ ( Isaiah 50:6 , Matthew 26:67 ).
11. He--that is, "God"; antithetical to "they"; English Version here follows the marginal reading (Keri).
my cord--image from a bow unstrung; opposed to Job 29:20 . The text (Chetib), "His cord" or "reins" is better; "yea, each lets loose his reins" [UMBREIT].
12. youth--rather, a (low) brood. To rise on the right hand is to accuse, as that was the position of the accuser in court ( Zechariah 3:1 , Psalms 109:6 ).
push . . . feet--jostle me out of the way ( Job 24:4 ).
ways of--that is, their ways of (that is, with a view to my) destruction. Image, as in Job 19:12 , from a besieging army throwing up a way of approach for itself to a city.
13. Image of an assailed fortress continued. They tear up the path by which succor might reach me.
set forward--( Zechariah 1:15 ).
they have no helper--Arabic proverb for contemptible persons. Yet even such afflict Job.
14. waters--(So 2 Samuel 5:20 ). But it is better to retain the image of Job 30:12 Job 30:13 . "They came [upon me] as through a wide breach," namely, made by the besiegers in the wall of a fortress ( Isaiah 30:13 ) [MAURER].
in the desolation--"Amidst the crash" of falling masonry, or "with a shout like the crash" of, &c.
soul--rather, "my dignity" [UMBREIT].
cloud--( Job 7:9 , Isaiah 44:22 ).
16-23. Job's outward calamities affect his mind.
poured out--in irrepressible complaints ( Psalms 42:4 , Joshua 7:5 ).
17. In the Hebrew, night is poetically personified, as in Job 3:3 : "night pierceth my bones (so that they fall) from me" (not as English Version, "in me"; see Job 30:30 ).
sinews--so the Arabic, "veins," akin to the Hebrew; rather, namely, my gnawing pains never cease. Effects of elephantiasis.
18. of my disease--rather, "of God" ( Job 23:6 ).
garment changed--from a robe of honor to one of mourning, literally ( Job 2:8 , John 3:6 ) and metaphorically [UMBREIT]. Or rather, as SCHUTTENS, following up Job 30:17 , My outer garment is changed into affliction; that is, affliction has become my outer garment; it also bindeth me fast round (my throat) as the collar of the inner coat; that is, it is both my inner and outer garment. Observe the distinction between the inner and outer garments. The latter refers to his afflictions from without ( Job 30:1-13 ); the former his personal afflictions ( Job 30:14-23 ). UMBREIT makes "God" subject to "bindeth," as in Job 30:19 .
19. God is poetically said to do that which the mourner had done to himself ( Job 2:8 ). With lying in the ashes he had become, like them, in dirty color.
20. stand up--the reverential attitude of a suppliant before a king ( 1 Kings 8:14 , Luke 18:11-13 ).
not--supplied from the first clause. But the intervening affirmative "stand" makes this ellipsis unlikely. Rather, as in Job 16:9 (not only dost thou refuse aid to me "standing" as a suppliant, but), thou dost regard me with a frown: eye me sternly.
22. liftest . . . to wind--as a "leaf" or "stubble" ( Job 13:25 ). The moving pillars of sand, raised by the wind to the clouds, as described by travellers, would happily depict Job's agitated spirit, if it be to them that he alludes.
dissolvest . . . substance--The marginal Hebrew reading (Keri), "my wealth," or else "wisdom," that is, sense and spirit, or "my hope of deliverance." But the text (Chetib) is better: Thou dissolvest me (with fear, Exodus 15:15 ) in the crash [MAURER]. UMBREIT translates as a verb, "Thou terrifiest me."
23. This shows Job 19:25 cannot be restricted to Job's hope of a temporal deliverance.
death--as in Job 28:22 , the realm of the dead ( Hebrews 9:27 , Genesis 3:19 ).
24. Expressing Job's faith as to the state after death. Though one must go to the grave, yet He will no more afflict in the ruin of the body (so Hebrew for "grave") there, if one has cried to Him when being destroyed. The "stretching of His hand" to punish after death answers antithetically to the raising "the cry" of prayer in the second clause. MAURER gives another translation which accords with the scope of Job 30:24-31 ; if it be natural for one in affliction to ask aid, why should it be considered (by the friends) wrong in my case? "Nevertheless does not a man in ruin stretch out his hand" (imploring help, Job 30:20 , Lamentations 1:17 )? If one be in his calamity (destruction) is there not therefore a "cry" (for aid)? Thus in the parallelism "cry" answers to "stretch--hand"; "in his calamity," to "in ruin." The negative of the first clause is to be supplied in the second, as in Job 30:25 ( Job 28:17 ).
25. May I not be allowed to complain of my calamity, and beg relief, seeing that I myself sympathized with those "in trouble" literally, "hard of day"; those who had a hard time of it.
26. I may be allowed to crave help, seeing that, "when I looked for good (on account of my piety and charity), yet evil," &c.
light--( Job 22:28 ).
27. bowels--regarded as the seat of deep feeling ( Isaiah 16:11 ).
boiled--violently heated and agitated.
prevented--Old English for "unexpectedly came upon" me, "surprised" me.
28. mourning--rather, I move about blackened, though not by the sun; that is, whereas many are blackened by the sun, I am, by the heat of God's wrath (so "boiled," Job 30:27 ); the elephantiasis covering me with blackness of skin ( Job 30:30 ), as with the garb of mourning ( Jeremiah 14:2 ). This striking enigmatic form of Hebrew expression occurs, Isaiah 29:9 .
stood up--as an innocent man crying for justice in an assembled court ( Job 30:20 ).
29. dragons . . . owls--rather, "jackals," "ostriches," both of which utter dismal screams ( Micah 1:8 ); in which respect, as also in their living amidst solitudes (the emblem of desolation), Job is their brother and companion; that is, resembles them. "Dragon," Hebrew, tannim, usually means the crocodile; so perhaps here, its open jaws lifted towards heaven, and its noise making it seem as if it mourned over its fate [BOCHART].
30. upon me--rather, as in Job 30:17 "my skin is black (and falls away) from me."
my bones--( Job 19:20 , Psalms 102:5 ).
31. organ--rather, "pipe" ( Job 21:12 ). "My joy is turned into the voice of weeping" ( Lamentations 5:15 ). These instruments are properly appropriated to joy ( Isaiah 30:29 Isaiah 30:32 ), which makes their use now in sorrow the sadder by contrast.